Causes of moles

Moles tend to run in families. If you have moles, your child might get some moles too.

There are some childhood conditions that are associated with lots of moles, but the moles themselves are harmless.

Many people get moles after spending a lot of time in the sun over many years.

Symptoms of moles

Moles might be skin coloured, brown or black. They’re usually small, smooth and flat, but they can also be raised and hairy.

Moles will usually grow on a child’s face, head and neck, and also on the child’s back, arms and legs. Some children might have only a few moles on their body, whereas others have a lot.

Sometimes children have moles when they’re born. But it’s more common for children to get moles after a year or so, and to get more moles as they get older.

When to see your doctor about moles

You should see your GP if:

  • you notice a mole growing rapidly on your child’s skin
  • your child’s mole has become itchy or sore
  • your child’s mole has been bleeding or has developed a crust
  • your child’s mole has changed colour, especially if it’s darker, looks crooked or has an uneven border
  • your child’s mole has become raised and lumpy.

Treatment for moles

Doctors don’t usually recommend that children have moles removed, for either medical or cosmetic reasons. This is because moles don’t usually turn into cancer in children. Also, the procedure to remove moles can be quite distressing for children and has a high risk of scarring.

It’s usually best to wait until the teenage years before looking into mole removal. At this age, your child can decide for himself about whether to get a mole removed. He’ll also be better able to handle the procedure.

Prevention of moles

Sun safety can help prevent moles. Sun safety during childhood can also reduce the chance of moles turning into melanomas or other skins cancers when your child is an adult.

You can keep your child safe in the sun by using plenty of SPF 30+ or higher, broad-spectrum, water-resistant sunscreen. Shade and protective clothing, hats and sunglasses also help.